Schiffer Publishing announces 'City Hall by Arthur Drooker'
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Schiffer Publishing announces 'City Hall by Arthur Drooker'
Los Angeles City Hall (1928). Photography copyright Arthur Drooker from the book City Hall published by Schiffer.

NEW YORK, NY.- City Hall by Arthur Drooker is the first book to feature striking photographs of the most architecturally distinctive and historically significant city halls in the United States of America. Organized chronologically, this stunning volume presents fifteen remarkable city halls from across the nation, covering the evolution of American civic architecture from the early nineteenth century to the present day and representing a diversity of styles, such as Federalist, art deco, beaux-arts, and modern. Among the city halls documented in the book are New York, the oldest; Philadelphia, once the tallest building in the world; and Boston, the first major brutalist building in the US.

Fittingly, City Hall will come out a week after the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden, at a time when we value the power of our vote to affirm the values that we can no longer take for granted. These values, the very cornerstones of our democracy, are celebrated in the civic buildings that appear in City Hall.

Drooker’s eighty-eight meticulously composed color and black and white images are accompanied by engaging, informative text that includes insights from architects, elected officials, historians, and preservationists who tell the story about how each city hall came to be, what it says about its city, and why it’s important architecturally.

For instance, San Francisco City Hall, with its gold leaf dome (pictured on the book’s cover) and glittering spire, rose phoenix-like from the rubble and ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire, one of the worst natural disasters in American history, to symbolize the city’s rebirth. Dallas’ daring concrete city hall coincided with civic efforts to repair the city’s tarnished image following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. And, in the 1920s, Los Angeles marked its ascendance into the top tier of American cities with a brand-new city hall that would remain the city’s tallest building for decades.

Regardless of their style, where they are located, or when they were built, all city halls are “the people’s house,” a term used by many mayors that Drooker met while working on the book. In his interview with Buffalo mayor Byron Brown, the mayor comments that “when people feel a sense of frustration and uncertainty, the compass, if you will, is local government, city government. I know that mayors all across the country take that responsibility very seriously no matter what their party is, because we know that we’re the level of government that people can see, touch, and feel, and they want practical solutions out of their local government. City hall is where it all happens.”

Today, there is all the more reason to celebrate these magnificent buildings whose architecture ennobles public service and reflects the values that define us as Americans. Drooker hopes his book will raise public awareness of these often under-appreciated buildings, boost efforts to preserve them, and affirm architecture’s unique power to encourage civic engagement and inspire civic pride. City Hall will appeal to people interested in architecture, architectural photography, art and design, the built environment, American history, local government, urban planning, and the future of our great cities.

Arthur Drooker is the author and photographer of American Ruins (Merrell, 2007), Lost Worlds: Ruins of the Americas (ACC, 2011), Pie Town Revisited (UNM Press, 2015) and Conventional Wisdom (Glitterati, 2016). His work has been the subject of a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning and has been exhibited widely, including shows at the Virginia Center for Architecture and the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C.

Douglas Brinkley is the acclaimed, best-selling author and award-winning historian. He is professor of history at Rice University, the CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Audubon. His many books include Cronkite (Sperber Prize for Best Book in Journalism), The Great Deluge (Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.) and the New York Times bestseller, Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America. He is a member of the Society of American Historians and the Council on Foreign Relations. He wrote the foreword for Arthur Drooker’s first book American Ruins. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Thomas Mellins is a noted author and curator. He co-authored New York Rising: An Illustrated History from the Durst Collection, as well as three volumes in an award-winning book series: New York 1880, New York 1930, and New York 1960. He has curated numerous exhibitions, including: “Mexico Modern: Art, Commerce and Cultural Exchange 1920-1945” for the University of Texas at Austin; “Affordable New York: A Housing Legacy” for the Museum of the City of New York; “House & Home,” for the National Building Museum; and “The New York Public Library: Celebrating 100 Years.” In 1999 Mayor Rudolph Giuliani designated Mr. Mellins a Centennial Historian of New York City.

Featured City Halls and the years they opened in chronological order:

New York City Hall (1812) / Cincinnati City Hall (1893) / Milwaukee City Hall (1895) / Philadelphia City Hall (1901) / Chicago City Hall (1911) / San Francisco City Hall (1915) / Los Angeles City Hall (1928) / Buffalo City Hall (1932) / Saint Paul City Hall (1932) / Palm Springs City Hall (1957) / Boston City Hall (1968) / Dallas City Hall (1978) / Austin City Hall (2004) / San Jose City Hall (2005) / Las Vegas City Hall (2012).

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